The General Life-Style of the Ahl Al-Bayt (A.S.)
By: Allamah Syed Muhammad Husain Tabataba'i
The other members of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) are the perfect examples of the education and training of the Holy Prophet (S). Their characters and life-style resemble the character of the Holy Prophet (S).
Certainly, during 250 years, beginning from the 11th year of Hijrah (the year of Holy Prophet's [S] demise) until the year 260 AH (when al-'Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi's [as] Ghaybat al-Kubra, i.e., Great Occultation started), in their associations with people, the infallible guides, the Imams faced various situations showing their style of living in different forms. They, however, never gave up the main objective of the Holy Prophet's (S) policy which consisted of safeguarding the Usul al-Din (the fundamental principles of Islam for believing in) and the Furu' al-Din (the secondary principles of Islam for action on) from undergoing changes and transformations, and the education of people, as far as possible.
Within 23 years since his call and invitation to Islam, the Holy Prophet (S) passed three phases of his life. He secretly called the people to Islam in the first three years of his al-Bi'that al-Nabawiyyah. He, then overtly invited the people to Islam in the next ten years. However, he and his followers lived under the severe tortures and persecution of the society and enjoyed no freedom of action that could make a tangible reform in the society.
The Holy Prophet (S) spent the remaining ten years (after the Hijrah) in an atmosphere in which the revival of truth and reality was the main goal and in which the holy Islam gained striking achievements day by day, thus opening up a new gate of knowledge and perfection to the people at every moment.
It is certainly obvious that these three different environments demanded different expediencies and would display the character and life-style of the Holy Prophet (S), who had no other objective but to revive the truth and reality, in various forms.
The different environments, in which the guiding Imams (as) lived, were not unlike the pre-Hijrah period of the Holy Prophet's (S) call. Sometimes, like the first three years of the prophetic mission, it was impossible even to highlight the truth and thus the Imams (as) performed their duties with utmost care, as was the case at the time of the fourth Imam (as) and the latter part of the time of the sixth Imam (as) who had similar expediencies.
Sometimes, like the ten years prior to Hijrah, when the Holy Prophet (S) overtly called the people to Islam in Makkah and when he and his followers were unable to resist the pressure of the unbelievers, the Imams (as) also proceeded to educate the people with the teachings of religion and the propagation of religious precepts. The influential men of the time, however, left no stone unturned in torturing and persecuting them and created new problems everyday.
Indeed, an environment resembling the Holy Prophet's (S) post-Hijrah milieu to some extent was the one in which Amir al-Mu'minin (Commander of the Mu'minin), 'Ali (as), ruled as a caliph for five years, the one in which Hadrat Fatimah (as) and al-Imam al-Hasan (as) lived for a small period, and the one in which al-,Imam al-Husayn (as) and his disciples lived for a short duration. In all these environments, the truth and reality were openly manifested, thus clearly reflecting the image of the general condition prevailing during the Holy Prophet's (S) time.
In short, except in what has been mentioned, the infallible Imams could not oppose the tyrant and usurper rulers and commanders of the time basically and openly. Therefore, they were obliged to have taqiyyah (concealing one's true beliefs when life is in danger) and to give no excuse to the rulers of the time to bother them. Nevertheless, their enemies left no stone unturned to put off the lights of their guidance and nullify their efforts.